‘Sarabande Presents: Freefall’ is a diverse, dramatic end-of-year performance

A still from 'Sarabande presents: Freefall' is pictured. Courtesy Tufts Sarabande

Sarabande Presents: Freefall,” Sarabande’s spring showcase, commenced last week on April 4 and April 6, and featured a wide array of styles, tricks and Tufts groups to celebrate freedom and the fear that comes with the fall. The performances indeed are both graceful and risky — some pieces are sensual, some are emotional and others are joyous. By incorporating so many different flavors of movement, the fall that must follow every jump has never had so many spotlights. The dancers spin almost impossibly fast, only to collapse like rushing water.

The first number of the night is “Heart,” a slow build of a dance choreographed by Emma Bednarski. In the show program, Bednarski simply commented that she was “grateful to have this space and these people to feel vulnerable with” and “thankful for the ability to fall and know someone will catch me every time.” The movements are deliberate and the vulnerability in the choreography comes through in the delicate falls and catches. Much of the dance is organized by pairs, groups and patterns of two. The dancers move and pull against one another, making the movements look like those of waves.

Next is Gabrielle de Weck’s “Nasty Groove,” a funky contemporary number with a medium-sized ensemble. De Weck described it as “off-brand” and “short and simple.” Set to Janet Jackson’s immortal “Nasty” (1986), this piece is full of twists and turns and is a bold, exhausting choice for a second number in a long night.

“Limit to Your Love” follows, and it proves one of the most dynamic and fun of the night. Choreographed by Ania Kranz and Eli van der Rijn, this piece is an incredible futuristic, hip-hop inspired tour de force. The movements are sharp and dramatic, and the dancers exercise incredible control. This one is hard to take the eyes off of, and the song “Limit to Your Love” by James Blake provides the perfect amount of pizzazz.

The following two dances are very personal, with themes of longing, hope and return. The first, titled “Cheers to What’s Ahead,” choreographed by Alice Janigro, is a cheery commentary on breaking ahead in the world and confronting the nerves of adulthood head-on. As Janigro writes, “as everyone gets older, there’s a pervasive desire to go back to when we were ‘young’… rather than dread the future, or long for the past, we should be grateful for the present and embrace the unknown that lies ahead.” It is a welcome, optimistic perspective that is not conveyed through dance. The following number, “Home,” is a more poignant piece by Kelly Donohue. Interspersed with voices defining what “home” means for them, this sweet lyrical dance has an especially large ensemble, giving it a gravitas and universality as well.

The following three dances are a fantastic showcase of style and ability; Sarabande is the only student-run contemporary-jazz dance club at Tufts, and the dancers come from a variety of backgrounds including hip-hop, ballet, jazz and other genres. “Legends,” choreographed by Eriko Kiode, is a celebratory piece with lots of lovely tricks and flairs from individual dancers. “Mind over Matter” is a dreamlike, mostly acoustic number by Julia Olszewski, who writes, “been thinking about the unification of youth and ephemerality lately.” The piece is energetic but soft, set to “White Ferrari” (2016) by Frank Ocean. The next piece, “Now and Again” by Cat Ahola and Anna Morreale is groovy and smooth, with small selection of dancers.

The following two pieces slow it down a little. “Ne me quitte pas” is elegant and tender, choreographed by Maya Best. “So Sweet,” by Charlene Brew, is another lyrical dance set to a well-chosen “Roses” by James Arthur and Emili Sandé. This piece radiates love, and the red skirts of the dancers might be the titular roses, or slow, licking flames.

The last two dances are the Senior Dance and the All Sarabande Dance: Show Me What You’ve Got! The Senior Dance, choreographed by Brew, Koide, Donohue and Janigro is a delightful hodgepodge of styles and moods, featuring music by Tchaikovsky, Christina Aguilera and the Cheetah Girls. Finally, “Show Me What You’ve Got!” by Brew and Koide is a joyful, energetic finale featuring bright yellow dresses and “Work This Body” (2014) by Walk the Moon. It is an exaltation of freedom and movement, and an appropriate end to this charged night of dance.

Special props must also be given to the guest performers throughout both nights: Encendido, JumboRaas, Pulse, Bhangra, Tap, TDC and Spirit of the Creative, all of whom rocked it out (and included performers dancing in Sarabande as well). Congratulations to all dancers involved!


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